Important note: I am incredibly sensitive to that fact that every woman’s experience with pregnancy or trying to get pregnant is unique. I wrote this to share my journey in hopes that it can help other lady bosses prepare for motherhood. I’m no expert, but I sure have learned a thing or two!
Ever since I was a wee kiddo, I knew I wanted to be a mom one day. I was oddly fascinated by pregnancy and loved sitting on the laps of ladies with babies in their bellies.
I know—#weirdo. But from my little point of view, it seemed like a pregnant woman had this superpower as they grew rounder and the little human moved a whole bunch inside.
It never dawned on me that pregnancy could be hard. In fact, for many years, I carried the belief that I would love being pregnant. That was… until I heard the stories.
From pregnant friends to people I followed on social media, there was no denying this whole 9+ month thing was messy and not the blissful adventure I’d imagined.
Extreme fatigue. Debilitating nausea. Pain. Mood swings. Stretch marks. Changes to the body. Identity crises.
With every girlfriend, I learned something I’d never heard before. Like…
- Pooping can be way harder.
- Abdominal muscles can separate.
- Varicose and bulging veins can form.
- Sleeping gets more and more challenging.
- Finding clothes to wear can be an expensive adventure.
- Sex feels… different.
- Skin will be more sensitive to sunburn.
- Old body image issues will come up.
Naturally, I asked all the questions. I listened in awe of their experiences. And by the time I was headed down the path of my own pregnancy pursuit, I felt pretty prepared.
I had heard the good, the bad, and the ugly. Check. And I had done everything I knew to do to get my body ready: balance my hormones, take a prenatal vitamin, test my thyroid, etc. Check. Check. Check.
But then came the bigger question—how will I run my business while pregnant and as a mom?
Since I had no idea how I would actually feel once I got pregnant—and I wanted to make sure my life and my business didn’t fall apart if the first trimester made me feel like utter poo—I spent over a year restructuring things.
To create more stability.
To hire support.
To boost my revenue.
To nail down a growth strategy.
I did all of the above and more. Which made me feel like I could actually do THIS.
That confidence boost gave me the courage to take the leap with my husband and get the baby-making underway.
Truly, we had no idea how long it would take us. I’ve had so many friends miscarry and know a few who have used IVF in their 30’s. So, we set our sights on getting pregnant within 6 months. Fingers crossed.
The reality? It took us 2 months, something we are incredibly grateful for. And while it may have been pure luck, I truly believe that my years of healthy prep work helped.
Since 2016, I’d been working to balance my hormones, understand some breast issues, and do my best to reduce stress through acupuncture and self-care. Because I always knew I needed to make my body a safe place for a baby to grow. And I was determined to be proactive.
So, when we got that positive pregnancy test, I felt like I was going to enter the first trimester like a total champ…because I was prepared. Or so I thought. Ha!
What I was not fully ready for was how crappy I would feel those first few months. In fact, starting at about week 6, it felt like I had a 24-hour hangover for 8 weeks straight (I know so many have it way, way worse!).
Side note: I’m not sharing this to complain. I’m sharing because I don’t think the reality of pregnancy is transparent enough in our culture. So, here’s the truth of my experience.
Here’s what it was like from January through the beginning of March.
I was nauseous from the moment I got out of bed every morning. And I would gag on my way to the kitchen where I would immediately eat a piece of bread or a rice cake to calm my stomach. Eventually, I realized that if I kept those trusty rice cakes on my nightstand and ate them before lifting my head off the pillow, I was good for the first few hours of the morning. But it would always come back, which meant I needed to have food or ginger candy in my mouth at all times.
THE AVERSIONS & CRAVINGS
Me and my kitchen? We stopped being friends for a while. A tiny whiff of the garbage or a peek inside the fridge at leftovers made me gag uncontrollably (no vomiting, just gagging). While most of my usual go-to foods totally turned me off—salad and veggies being big ones—I was surprised at which foods I actually wanted to eat. I craved fruit, specifically raspberries and oranges. I wanted cereal, granola, yogurt, and toast with PB&J. And thankfully, smoothies were still going down which meant I could load them up with protein and green powder.
OMG. Never in my life had I been so tired. In fact, at around noon and then at 3 pm, I had to nap. Trying to power through exacerbated the nausea and made me feel like a zombie, so they were not optional. So, as you can imagine finagling the fatigue in the midst of client calls, copywriting projects, Facebook Lives, podcasting, and promoting all the things was incredibly challenging. I was in complete survival mode. Trying to ward off nausea (which never really worked). Trying to sneak in sleep anywhere I could. And trying to show up for my clients as if nothing was going on. SO HARD, but… I did it.
Ha! This was interesting. One day I would feel depressed and sad—that my life was over, that I couldn’t survive this, that it would never end. The next I’d be a complete psycho, overreacting to everything (my poor husband) and feeling beyond irritable. And in between, I was a huge baby, whining endlessly about how crappy I felt and leaning on my husband to pick up the slack (he is an angel!). To be honest, I saved all of my kindness and energy for my clients because not showing up as the best version of me for them, simply wasn’t an option.
Now, I want to be clear. I’m fully aware of the fact that I did not have it that bad. I know ladies who have experienced extreme nausea and vomiting through their 2nd trimesters and beyond. Which is why, despite my own challenges, I’m grateful for how they developed for me.
Because by week 16, I started to feel like myself again. I had more energy. The nausea slowly dissipated. And I felt like I had the capacity to truly live my life versus hibernate in my apartment for days without setting foot outside. I bow to women that feel like poo their entire pregnancies AND those of you that have to go to an office working a 9-5. You are my heroes.
So, how did I survive the first few months? What did I learn and what can I offer you? Here are 8 little things.
- Honor Your Unique Journey. Everyone is different. There is no-one-size-fits-all first trimester. It’s really a crap shoot, and even your mom’s experience may not inform yours (my mom’s nausea-free journey certainly didn’t happen for me!). So, the best thing you can do is this…
- Create More Space. If you want to leave room for naps and a more open schedule during your first trimester just in case, it’s a must to either take on less work or hire support. Not only that but don’t overcommit to events or social stuff. You will regret it later, trust me. Hiring my business manager Sofia was my saving grace. She took care of so many things I just didn’t have the headspace to do. Plus, she gave me much-needed emotional support so that I felt like I wasn’t running this business alone.
- Choose Surrender Over Pushing. One big lesson learned: pregnancy forces you to slow down big time. And it makes sense—your body is literally building another human being and demands a whole lot more from your nutrient stores, your energy, and more. Embrace the fact that you have less capacity to do what you were doing before and you’ll have to do less as a result.
- Put Self-Care at the Top of Your List. In tandem with the tip above, I highly recommend finding ways to nourish and nurture yourself as much as possible. Take baths. Ask your partner to make dinner. And express yourself to your loved ones. Tell people what you need, wear comfy clothes as much as possible, and don’t “should” all over yourself. The more you can embrace what is and lean in, the better.
- Show Up for Your Clients. As mentioned above, this is a toughie. When you’re tired and nauseous being present and giving fully of yourself requires more intention and effort. However, it’s SO IMPORTANT to deliver to the people who have invested in you. I showed up for every call with as full a tank as I could—rested, fed, and likely sucking on a nausea-relieving candy. And if I needed more time on a project, I communicated it clearly. I rarely used “I’m pregnant” as an excuse for anything. But like I said, everyone’s experience is different, so do the best you can!
- Save $$. Having your own business means that you get to declare your own maternity leave. Something that is an incredible privilege. The flipside? You don’t have the safety net of a salary to pay you for that time off. Nope, you gotta save that money in advance and more than you may think you’ll need. So, be aggressive about it and map out exactly how much time you want to take off and how much cash you’ll need to cover your living expenses. It will give you SO MUCH peace of mind throughout the pregnancy. (I’ll share more about my process and plans for this soon!)
- Remember What’s Happening. If pregnancy makes you feel like poo, it’s so helpful to remind yourself what your body is doing—building a human. THIS is a freaking miracle. Reconnecting with this truth helps keep things in perspective. Remember that you’re built for this, that the discomfort you’re experiencing now is only making you more capable of moving through life and motherhood with grace. So, do your best to let go and be present to it all.
- Mediate & Move. When daily nausea and exhaustion feels like a hangover, the last thing anyone wants to do is meditate or exercise. F-that, right? However, the days where I got my buns on the meditation pillow or took a long walk around the block were the days I felt a little bit better. Nobody wants to be fully present to discomfort, but I found that when I sat with the nausea and fatigue for 15-20 minutes instead of trying to resist it, relief came a bit more frequently.
Truth—pregnancy is not easy for most people. And unfortunately, it’s not something that’s always discussed. Perhaps because so many women struggle to get pregnant in the first place, no one wants to complain.
Thing is, our honesty helps prepare other women for their journeys too. And when you’re an entrepreneur, it’s key to wrap your head around what your pregnancy could be like so that you can still effectively run your business.
Because there is no guidebook out there. Trust me, I’ve looked.
What has been a lifesaver is reading about the experiences of other ladies who are solopreneurs and to know that they survived, that I’m not alone, and that we all have the ability to just figure it out.
When we can hear the truths, the stories, and the successes of others who have come before us, the fear can dissipate and little and we can lean into trusting the process.
For me, I feel immense gratitude that I have this opportunity to be a mama. And after a lot of mental preparation and planning my maternity leave, I’m ready to step away from my business come September and let things unfold.
(Side note: More to come on the details of how much time I’m taking off and how much $$ I recommend saving in advance.)
I hope this has been insightful, and if it has, please leave me a comment and share it with anyone you think needs a little support on her journey.